Tools for Tots ~ Ping Pong Balls

On a whim a few months ago, I ordered a bulk set of Ping Pong Balls. I had a few ideas for them, so I ordered 144 just to be safe! I got busy making tools for Krash and we are just now starting to use them regularly!!!

I made him an alphabet set, writing each upper case letter, with a black Sharpie, on each ball.

I also made him a color set, coloring circles of each color of Sharpie on each different ball. I also plan to make him a lower case set, and a set with numbers. He knows all of his shapes, but if he didn’t I would do that too!

We use them for all sorts of things, most recently as centers for our egg game! We put colored balls into each egg and every time he dropped the egg he had to come get a new colored ball and name the color! The possibilities are endless with this tool!

Here’s what you need:

Tools for Tots

Would you like to share a Tool for Tots? Write up a post about a tool you made, be sure to include what is needed and also a photo(s). It doesn’t have to be a tool you thought of on your own, if you got the idea from another website/blog, link to give them credit! Some of the best Tools for Tots are simple ideas that have been around for many years! Just be sure to post photos of the one you actually made!

Copy the link to your EXACT post (not your homepage) and leave your link below. If you’d like to add the graphic to your blog, copy and paste the html code for the graphic over on the right sidebar! Be sure to link back here somehow so we can share all of our ideas together!
Thanks for sharing your great ideas! I have made the new page on my site, where I have links for all of the tools shared! I will post a Mr Linky underneath each time I post a new tool, for now I am not going to set a day. If you have a tool, just link up to the most current post.

Tools for Tots ~ Song Notebook

Krash loves to sing, and he loves our box of instruments and finger puppets that we use with our songs. The only problem is…I don’t remember all of our songs off the top of my head and sometimes I even forget to sing at all! Lately he has been begging me to sing our version of Row, Row, Row Your Boat and this has inspired me to create a song notebook for him so he can browse through himself and choose the songs for our song time! I hope this notebook will grow and become a integral part of our Tot School time as we have so much fun when we remember to sing together!

I typed up some of our favorite songs and put them in PDF form for you to download if you’d like to use them too. I will also be adding to the list as I find time! I printed his out on colored paper and put them in sheet protectors and into a 3-ring binder.

I snapped some photos of a few of them, showing you our finished products along with the instruments we have to go with them. What a neat gift it would be to make a song notebook for a tot you know and then provide some of the instruments or puppets to go with it!

If you don’t own any instruments, be creative and make your own! You can make sock puppets too! But if you’re looking to buy some, here’s a few I really like online…
6-pc. Rhythm Kit Set
Friends From Literature Finger Puppets (Set of 10)

Tools For Tots ~ Learning Wheels (colors, shapes)

Color and Shape Wheel Printables

I was inspired to make these from the ideas I saw on Four Little Penguins, I also saw an adorable adaptation of that idea on Cheeky Monkey, where she used little wooden sticks and velcro for her son instead of the clothespins.

I decided to create Learning Wheels, and began with color matching…
and shape matching…For the colors I started K today with different colored bottle tops to just place on the colors, I also plan to let him use colored pom poms, wooden sticks, and of course clothespins. BUT, before you go thinking K always uses his tools in the proper way, this is what he thought of my idea today…the purple bead (I didn’t have a purple top) was used as a hammer to pound on the other tops and he wouldn’t match them up on my lovely learning wheel :). That’s OK though, we still yelled out the colors as he pounded!
He did well with the shapes and seemed to enjoy the challenge of this one. I used little foam shapes I had from this set
What you will need:
  • The Learning Wheels, you can make your own or download mine here as a pdf file
  • colored objects to match up (wooden sticks, clothespins, pom poms, bottle tops, even pieces of construction paper…be creative!)
  • shapes to match up (I made sure the colors DID not match in order to get him to focus on the shape) Pull shapes from any other tool you have or make your own out of construction paper or cardstock
  • cardstock (to print on)
  • laminator (if you have one, or can get one-it’s SOOO worth the $40, I use it all the time!)

I am working on more Learning Wheels too, I know this tool will grow with him as I add different leveled wheels. It is certainly a tool that can be used for tots and way beyond! I am also making gift sets of these, most likely including the clothespins for them. For older kids I make them for I may make a clothespin set with color/shape words on them too.


Tools for Tots ~ Bottle Top Names

I made 2 versions of this tool, the simple hand made version… and the bit more complex computer version…

SIMPLE VERSION ~What you will need…

  • enough of the same type of bottle top (milk, water, juice, prescription bottles, etc.) to make each letter of the name you are using.
  • sentence strips, cardboard, or some other sturdy rectangle to trace the tops onto.
  • Sharpie marker

I am using my mini laminator to laminate mine also but you don’t have to do that. I just traced the bottle tops onto the sentence strip, trimmed the strip to the size of the name, wrote the letters in the circles, and then onto the actual tops.

COMPUTER VERSION ~ What you will need…

  • computer program (I used Microsoft Publisher, which I use for tons of things I make)
  • bottle tops, Sharpie
  • card stock
  • laminator if you have one

In Publisher, I just used the rectangle tool to make the size I wanted, then inserted a photo from my files, sizing it to fit the opening. I used the circle tool to make the size circles I needed (printing out a paper copy to measure against my actual tops), then typed each letter in. I printed them on cardstock, laminated them, and cut them out! All done!

For an older child you could make their first and last name, or make several strips including names of family members. This isn’t just a tool for tots! It could be altered in so many ways. Back when I used to teach K, we had a center called milk top spelling where I would do the same thing as the simple version shown, but use spelling words. The letters they needed were all written on a collection of milk tops.

Here’s one that I am giving for a gift… (shhh Shannon, don’t tell Daniel!!)

Tools for Tots

In my effort to keep my mind off of all things cancer (which we don’t have the final report on quite yet), I have been brainstorming new ideas for homeschooling, mainly for my tot-Krash. The idea hit me today to start a Mr Linky for all of us to share tools for tots that we make ourselves. There are many wonderful Tot School Tools out there to buy but in an effort to save even more money these days I have been searching for more things I can make with minimal money involved.

I am not a very craft oriented mom, more of a Montessori tools type of thinker. One of the blogs I read and love has really helped inspire this idea as I have noticed her change to many home made Montessori type of materials for her young ones. Here is her most recent blog post, filled with many of these wonderful tools for her tots. The tools she shows are very similar to things I used to do with Krash and Pac-Man when he was younger, I have just gotten away from them lately. So simple, so inexpensive, yet so great!

With Christmas approaching I even plan to make these tools to give as gifts to young tots in our extended family as well as to my friends who have tots. I thought we could join together in sharing ideas to make tools for our own tots and also tools for Christmas gifts! I am working on my first tool right now and will get a Mr Linky up when I post it, in case anyone else would like to join in! If this goes well, I will create a non-Christmas colored graphic for after Christmas! 🙂